By Rep. Steve Holland
My splendid mentor, longtime Lee County Chancery Clerk, John A. “Red” Rasberry, prefaced every conversation with the perfect greeting, “Thanks to God and the good people of Lee County.”
My 29 consecutive years in the Mississippi House of Representatives have been simply indescribable as far as whom I’ve met and what I’ve been able to be a part of.
I have not only been able to see the sea changes in Mississippi, I’ve been able to help put many of them together.
The list is quite long and progressive:
• The 1987 Highway Program
• Numerous economic development programs which resulted in projects such as Toyota and Nissan
• Principal author of the County Unit System of County Government
• A system of countywide multipurpose arenas in all 82 counties
• Pioneering the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
• Expanded statewide Medicaid program that provides access and payment to beneficiaries and providers alike
• The building of a new State Mental Hospital in Tupelo
• Complete modernization/expansions and renovations on all eight university campuses and 15 community college campuses
• The Educational Enhancement Program and MAEP Foundation Funding program for K-12 public schools
• Work Force Development programs and a myriad of other progressive legislative initiatives that have buoyed the quality of life, economic self-sufficiency and cultural habitat for all
I get very excited thinking about the progress we’ve made but I know, we have much more to do.
Just because I had almost three years of experience in the late l970’s on the Washington staff of our late Congressman Jamie Whitten, three degrees from Mississippi’s colleges and universities, or the fact that I have been a student and leader of public health and Medicaid policy for almost three decades and participated significantly in all the programs mentioned above among many others, or that I have never lost a bill on the floor of the House that’s come from a Committee I’ve chaired in the last 24 years – no, these do not signal the birthright for anything legislatively in this session.
I’m a leadership man. I understand and aggressively uphold our system of governing. And boy, do I understand that to the victor goes the spoils.
I was the first Democrat to publicly come out in support of Speaker Gunn, helped prevent the futile exercise of running a Democratic candidate for speaker knowing they would only be a spoiler, and was a loyal supporter of his rules changes.
The results: good working committees including Ways and Means where Chairman Jeff Smith has appointed me Subcommittee Chair of the Economic Development subcommittee, Vice Chairman of the Local and Private Committee, on Youth and Family Services, on Transportation, Fees and Salaries of Public Officials and Tourism. I’m proud of my new assignments. They’re all new; I’ve never served these subjects.
Why was I not placed on Public Health and Medicaid where my years of service and associations have allowed a wealth of institutional knowledge unsurpassed by anyone serving now? Speaker Gunn says he wants a fresh, unaltered start for his new GOP leadership team. It sounds good on the surface but the fact remains, there’s no need to throw away such depth and understanding.
The speaker’s dictates are pretty much final.
I’m putting any hard feelings aside; I’m going to be the best minority member I can be.
I will not let anyone steal my passion, knowledge and desire to see Mississippi prosper.
I’m a journeyman. I can take the lumps and bruises and emerge. That’s exactly what I plan to do with your continued help and support. Thanks for the opportunity.
Rep, Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, represents District 16. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.